Rand Paul Echoes Os Guinness: Liberty Requires Virtue

Republican 2016 U.S. presidential candidate U.S. Senator Rand Paul answers a question at the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)

Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul says that liberty and freedom requires virtue and moral underpinnings, echoing Christian social critic and author Os Guinness.

Paul appeared on John Stossel's program on Fox Business Friday to talk about free-markets, the presidential race, and to promote his new book Our President's & Their Prayers: Proclamations of Faith by America's Leaders.

"The one thing interesting about liberty is I want to leave them alone, I want you to be free to do just about anything if you don't hurt anyone," says Paul.

"But I think society and civilization needs structure. There is a theologian by the name of Os Guinness I like who says 'that liberty requires restraint, but the only restraint consistent with liberty is self-restraint.'

"So I am not saying the government should make good people out of you, but I think it makes it a heck of a lot easier for civilization to exist if you have liberty and virtue," Paul added.

The Kentucky Senator, who is Presbyterian, noted that it helps to have a Republic who has virtuous people so liberty can flourish.

Stossel, who is a strong proponent of libertarianism and free markets, noted that he was not religious but that he has virtue. Stossel is on record as being agnostic. Paul added that liberty does not mean libertinism.

Paul argued that clear belief in right and wrong and virtue is something that was clearly understood in American history, which he said was a reason for writing the book, which was co-authored by Life Outreach International Founder and President James Robison.

A portion of the introduction to the new book reads:

"Most of our Presidents recognized this principle [virtue], especially President Washington. He recognized that freedom requires an undergirding of faith. Washington believed that democracy depended upon a virtuous people.

"His prayers and writings, and those of other great presidents in our history contained in these pages, reveal how integral our religious traditions were to our founding, and I believe, to our future as well."

Os Guinness, 74, a notable Christian intellectual, has argued that America misunderstands freedom today, where the republic reflects libertinism rather than liberty.

In his 2012 book A Free People's Suicide, he writes: "Modern people value choice rather than good choice," Moreover, as Lord Acton claimed, freedom is "not the power of doing what we like but the right of being able to do what we ought."

Guinness says that no modern successful country has ever survived when it was founded or built upon atheistic principles.

Paul told Stossel that America "has a long tradition of limiting power that goes all the way back to the English people through the Magna Carta."

The Republican presidential candidate, who many believe has not lived up to expectations in the race, told Stossel that the campaign is still early and the voting has not started yet. The Kentucky senator also vigorously criticized socialism and fiscally irresponsible Republicans in Washington.

Paul will still be on the main stage of the next GOP debate on November 10, while former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have been bumped to the undercard debate.

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